What is a Modern Myrrhbearer?

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Mironosnice na Hristovom grobu (Myrrhbearers on Christ’s Grave), Mileseva monastery, Prijepolje, Serbia c. 1235. Also known popularly as “The White Angel.”

The modern mind tends to identify with historically significant figures when we look back through the pages of history; faceless, nameless persons who once led their lives in anonymity consistently fail to captivate our attention or imagination unless the circumstances of their lives or deaths demonstrate high drama. We are all fascinated by the first century citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum who were preserved in the ashes of Mount Vesuvius, and imagine how we might have felt if we had been captured in the instant of living life in our Pompeiian villas and gardens. But we reject without recognition the fact that even if we had lived among the noblemen of Pompeii, we might just as easily have lived a life of drudgery, hardship and anonymity, as a slave or servant, rather than one of privilege.  History holds no allure for us when we imagine ourselves as anything less than the glitterati among its pages. We can only imagine we would have been persons of import in another age.

The rocket rise of social media to the top of most lists of modern daily habits attests to the somewhat timeless and universal human need to make our mark – to define for others who we are, where we’ve been, how we live. Perhaps surprisingly, though, another common entry on many such daily lists, in the U.S. at least, is prayer and meditation.  Modern minds can find inspiration for our prayer and meditation, and learn to embrace our anonymity, through recognition that each of us is known so well to God regardless of our worldly renown.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:25-27

We know of Scriptural adjurations that ought to relieve us of worldly cares – that if heeded surely ought to bring our focus inward and upward – for example, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21 KJV.  This world is clearly Caesar’s, but do we really want to live as if only the next is God’s? The fear of anonymity, of leaving this world without a glowing tribute in national or international mass media that will live on for centuries or longer, really ought not to concern us. It is not the proper goal of a true Christian to seek glory, unless it is attributed, rightly, to the gifts God has bestowed upon us. Modern myrrh bearers are those who dig deep within themselves to find and strengthen their faith in God. We can act in recognition of that faith, subjecting ourselves to discomfort or even danger if we must, by offering to God the fruits of our actions and avoiding actions that would not be well pleasing to Him.  We can identify the modern equivalent of myrrh in our lives, some intrinsically valuable way of living – controlling our actions and speech – that like myrrh will fight corruption in its modern, cultural sense. And we can make that thing of value, that myrrh, our gift to Him. The White Angel will beckon to us, and wait patiently to give us the Good News.